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This paper investigates how the well-intentioned global humanitarian discourse on child soldiers may be disregarding the complex local understandings and experiences of military recruitment. It seeks to present a compelling case for a wholesale re-conceptualisation of the phenomenon of ‘child soldiers’ so as to devise aid programmes that can better reflect and respond to local understandings, priorities, and needs. This paper takes on both global and local levels of analysis and draw from a wide array of literature, including those from the fields of human rights, child development, political economy, anthropology, and various policy documents and reports of humanitarian and human rights organisations.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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